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Sun Microsystems rolled out a new a unified framework this week for its U.S. channel programs. The company announced the new program, designed to simplify the way in which partners do business with Sun, at its iForce partner summit in San Diego.

Under the new organization, the systems, software and services partner programs which previously operated separately, now come under one umbrella. Qualified partners may now sell any Sun product or service through a single contract, using a single point of contact within Sun.

Gary Grimes, vice president of U.S. Partner Management and Sales at Sun Microsystems, Inc., said the company introduced the program because “customers today aren’t looking to buy their hardware, software and services separately. They want a complete solution that helps them get to market faster, and with lower cost.”

Under the new framework, partners may engage Sun at three distinct levels: Foundation, Premier and Elite. The Foundation level is for entry-level partners focused on the mid-market; Premier is for existing partners that have made significant investments in selling Sun’s entire product line; and Elite is for partners who have made extraordinary investments in developing and selling Sun solutions.

“As Sun has redefined itself as a true solutions-led company, partners have asked that we structure our engagement models with them accordingly. This new framework erases the lines between our hardware, software and services organizations, and gives partners a single contract and point of contact with Sun,” Grimes said.

All Sun Services offerings, as well as Sun software are now available to Foundation and Premier partners through a single authorized iForce contract. Partners must meet competency and revenue requirements to participate in the Sun Software Elite program. The company will also offer a more cohesive training program with two basic certification levels, Foundation and Premier utilizing web-based and offered at no cost to partners. Partners may be able to test out of mandatory coursework.

Additionally, the program includes a U.S. Compliance Office that will enforce iForce contracts, and insure consistent policies and penalties for contract across all partner levels.

Sun also announced special pricing for qualified iForce reseller partners for the Sun Java Enterprise System and Sun Java Desktop System
products: $50 per employee per year for Sun Java Enterprise System software and $25 per desktop per year for Sun Java Desktop System software. The company also announced that small businesses that have fewer than 100 employees and meet certain criteria, can sign up for a free, one-year runtime license for Java Enterprise System software.